Lack of Minority Representation in Science and Engineering Endangering US Economic Health

By Jan Zverina

July 26, 2012

We need to “combat the loss of the precious few,” Richard Tapia tells attendees at XSEDE12 conference.

Rapid growth in certain segments of the nation’s population is pushing the country’s educational challenges to a crisis level, while too many of the “precious few” under-represented minority students pursuing science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) disciplines are dropping out or changing majors, according to Richard Tapia, an internationally known mathematician.

“Our concern with under-representation today does not stem from moral or ethical issues,” Tapia, a professor in the Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics at Rice University said during his keynote address to attendees of XSEDE12, this year’s conference of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF)  Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) program in Chicago.

“It’s a simple matter of the nation’s survival,” said Tapia, also director of XSEDE’s Scholars Program, adding that such an equitable representation “is to make the country healthy and the leadership healthy.”

Tapia, a Mexican American born in Los Angeles – and the first native born Latino to win the National Medal of Science – said that under-represented minorities growing up in the United States who are interested in science, engineering, or mathematics often face what he called an “identity crisis,” while noting the extremely low number of under-represented minority (URM) graduate students in STEM departments among the nation’s top research universities.

He said those students often encounter “a sink or swim” culture, and have no support mechanisms at those leading research schools. Often they lose confidence, causing them to migrate to non-STEM majors.

“They may graduate, but not in their intended major, and that means they are lost to research science,” Tapia told XSEDE12 attendees. “We depend too much on minority-serving institutions to solve the under-representation problem, but all universities must be a part of the solution. If we URMs are to be an effective component in U.S. STEM leadership, then we must have equitable presence as students and faculty at the top research universities.”

Tapia said the problem has been exacerbated by the fact that Hispanics – currently the fastest growing segment of the nation’s population – continue to be the least educated.  He said that in 2006, Hispanics made up 14.8 percent of the U.S. population, while Asians as a group made up only 4.4 percent. Yet Hispanics made up less than 2.4 percent of the nation’s academic “pipeline” in STEM-related disciplines, while Asians, which he does not consider to be URMs in STEM, accounted for more than 17.5 percent.

“There are good jobs, but we URMs tend not to train in the areas where there are jobs,” he said, adding that “the rate at which this population is growing is outpacing the rate at which we as a nation are improving our effectiveness in educating this segment of the population.”

Affirmative Action, ‘Separate but Equal’, and “Diversity”

Tapia, in his remarks, touched on several areas that have actually hampered the success of under-represented minorities, both within and outside the academic community.

On affirmative action:

“Some progress was made, but not enough. After 40 years the nation got tired.  We don’t want reverse discrimination, and we don’t want lowering of standards. So affirmative action died; it probably should have died and we did not do a good job with it. Instead, affirmative action should have been an evaluation of the evaluation process and modifications made so that it could identify those who would succeed.”

On ‘Separate but Equal’:

“America’s solution technique to correct for denied education has been to propose separate but equal activities. Separate but equal is always separate but never equal. And separate but not equal is destroying the country and will continue to do so if we don’t change this way of doing business.”

On “Diversity” versus “Under-represented”:

“The two are not the same, but today we stay away from the politically incorrect term ‘under-representation’ and use the politically correct term ‘diversity.’  We do this with serious negative consequences for under-representation Today’s research universities are very ‘diverse’ in terms of faculty and graduate students. However representation of members from underrepresented groups is non-existent. ‘Diversity’ is a word that you can pick up and sweep the dirt underneath.”

In summarizing his remarks, Tapia said he believes the economic health of the country is based in large measure upon technical advances, but that the nation must find a way to incorporate the growing population of under-represented minorities into the mainstream of scientific and technical endeavors. In response to a student’s question following his talk, Tapia said: “Be a professional who happens to be a minority or woman. Don’t be professional minority,” adding “strong credentials will take you wherever you want to go.”

About Richard Tapia

Tapia is a mathematician and professor in the Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics at Rice University in Houston, Texas. He is internationally known for his research in the computational and mathematical sciences and is a national leader in education and outreach programs. Tapia’s current Rice positions are University Professor; Maxfield-Oshman Professor in Engineering; and Director of the Center for Excellence and Equity in Education. His complete biography is at http://www.caam.rice.edu/~rat/brief_bio.html.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

SC22 Unveils ACM Gordon Bell Prize Finalists

August 12, 2022

Courtesy of the schedule for the SC22 conference, we now have our first glimpse at the finalists for this year’s coveted Gordon Bell Prize. The Gordon Bell Prize, of course, comes with an award of $10,000 courtesy of H Read more…

Q&A with ORNL’s Bronson Messer, an HPCwire Person to Watch in 2022

August 12, 2022

HPCwire presents our interview with Bronson Messer, distinguished scientist and director of Science at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF), ORNL, and an HPCwire 2022 Person to Watch. Messer recaps ORNL's journey to exascale and sheds light on how all the pieces line up to support the all-important science. Also covered are the role... Read more…

TACC Simulations Probe the First Days of Stars, Black Holes

August 12, 2022

The stunning images produced by the James Webb Space Telescope and recent supercomputer-enabled black hole imaging efforts have brought the early days of the universe quite literally into sharp focus. Researchers from th Read more…

Google Program to Free Chips Boosts University Semiconductor Design

August 11, 2022

A Google-led program to design and manufacture chips for free is becoming popular among researchers and computer enthusiasts. The search giant's open silicon program is providing the tools for anyone to design chips, which then get manufactured. Google foots the entire bill, from a chip's conception to delivery of the final product in a user's hand. Google's... Read more…

Argonne Deploys Polaris Supercomputer for Science in Advance of Aurora

August 9, 2022

Argonne National Laboratory has made its newest supercomputer, Polaris, available for scientific research. The system, which ranked 14th on the most recent Top500 list, is serving as a testbed for the exascale Aurora system slated for delivery in the coming months. The HPE-built Polaris system (pictured in the header) consists of 560 nodes... Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Shutterstock 1519171757

Running large-scale CFD fire simulations on AWS for Amazon.com

This post was contributed by Matt Broadfoot, Senior Fire Strategy Manager at Amazon Design and Construction, and Antonio Cennamo ProServe Customer Practice Manager, Colin Bridger Principal HPC GTM Specialist, Grigorios Pikoulas ProServe Strategic Program Leader, Neil Ashton Principal, Computational Engineering Product Strategy, Roberto Medar, ProServe HPC Consultant, Taiwo Abioye ProServe Security Consultant, Talib Mahouari ProServe Engagement Manager at AWS. Read more…

Microsoft/NVIDIA Solution Channel

Shutterstock 1689646429

Gain a Competitive Edge using Cloud-Based, GPU-Accelerated AI KYC Recommender Systems

Financial services organizations face increased competition for customers from technologies such as FinTechs, mobile banking applications, and online payment systems. To meet this challenge, it is important for organizations to have a deep understanding of their customers. Read more…

US CHIPS and Science Act Signed Into Law

August 9, 2022

Just a few days after it was passed in the Senate, the U.S. CHIPS and Science Act has been signed into law by President Biden. In a ceremony today, Biden signed and lauded the ambitious piece of legislation, which over the course of the legislative process broadened to include hundreds of billions in additional science and technology spending. He was flanked by Speaker... Read more…

Q&A with ORNL’s Bronson Messer, an HPCwire Person to Watch in 2022

August 12, 2022

HPCwire presents our interview with Bronson Messer, distinguished scientist and director of Science at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF), ORNL, and an HPCwire 2022 Person to Watch. Messer recaps ORNL's journey to exascale and sheds light on how all the pieces line up to support the all-important science. Also covered are the role... Read more…

Google Program to Free Chips Boosts University Semiconductor Design

August 11, 2022

A Google-led program to design and manufacture chips for free is becoming popular among researchers and computer enthusiasts. The search giant's open silicon program is providing the tools for anyone to design chips, which then get manufactured. Google foots the entire bill, from a chip's conception to delivery of the final product in a user's hand. Google's... Read more…

Argonne Deploys Polaris Supercomputer for Science in Advance of Aurora

August 9, 2022

Argonne National Laboratory has made its newest supercomputer, Polaris, available for scientific research. The system, which ranked 14th on the most recent Top500 list, is serving as a testbed for the exascale Aurora system slated for delivery in the coming months. The HPE-built Polaris system (pictured in the header) consists of 560 nodes... Read more…

US CHIPS and Science Act Signed Into Law

August 9, 2022

Just a few days after it was passed in the Senate, the U.S. CHIPS and Science Act has been signed into law by President Biden. In a ceremony today, Biden signed and lauded the ambitious piece of legislation, which over the course of the legislative process broadened to include hundreds of billions in additional science and technology spending. He was flanked by Speaker... Read more…

12 Midwestern Universities Team to Boost Semiconductor Supply Chain

August 8, 2022

The combined stressors of Covid-19 and the invasion of Ukraine have sent every major nation scrambling to reinforce its mission-critical supply chains – including and in particular the semiconductor supply chain. In the U.S. – which, like much of the world, relies on Asia for its semiconductors – those efforts have taken shape through the recently... Read more…

Quantum Pioneer D-Wave Rings NYSE Bell, Begins Life as Public Company

August 8, 2022

D-Wave Systems, one of the early quantum computing pioneers, has completed its SPAC deal to go public. Its merger with DPCM Capital was completed last Friday, and today, D-Wave management rang the bell on the New York Stock Exchange. It is now trading under two ticker symbols – QBTS and QBTS WS (warrant shares), respectively. Welcome to the public... Read more…

Supercomputer Models Explosives Critical for Nuclear Weapons

August 6, 2022

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is one of the laboratories that operates under the auspices of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which manages the United States’ stockpile of nuclear weapons. Amid major efforts to modernize that stockpile, LLNL has announced that researchers from its own Energetic Materials Center... Read more…

SEA Changes: How EuroHPC Is Preparing for Exascale

August 5, 2022

Back in June, the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking – which serves as the EU’s concerted supercomputing play – announced its first exascale system: JUPITER, set to be installed by the Jülich Supercomputing Centre (FZJ) in 2023. But EuroHPC has been preparing for the exascale era for a much longer time: eight months... Read more…

Nvidia R&D Chief on How AI is Improving Chip Design

April 18, 2022

Getting a glimpse into Nvidia’s R&D has become a regular feature of the spring GTC conference with Bill Dally, chief scientist and senior vice president of research, providing an overview of Nvidia’s R&D organization and a few details on current priorities. This year, Dally focused mostly on AI tools that Nvidia is both developing and using in-house to improve... Read more…

Royalty-free stock illustration ID: 1919750255

Intel Says UCIe to Outpace PCIe in Speed Race

May 11, 2022

Intel has shared more details on a new interconnect that is the foundation of the company’s long-term plan for x86, Arm and RISC-V architectures to co-exist in a single chip package. The semiconductor company is taking a modular approach to chip design with the option for customers to cram computing blocks such as CPUs, GPUs and AI accelerators inside a single chip package. Read more…

The Final Frontier: US Has Its First Exascale Supercomputer

May 30, 2022

In April 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy announced plans to procure a trio of exascale supercomputers at a total cost of up to $1.8 billion dollars. Over the ensuing four years, many announcements were made, many deadlines were missed, and a pandemic threw the world into disarray. Now, at long last, HPE and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have announced that the first of those... Read more…

US Senate Passes CHIPS Act Temperature Check, but Challenges Linger

July 19, 2022

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed a major hurdle that will open up close to $52 billion in grants for the semiconductor industry to boost manufacturing, supply chain and research and development. U.S. senators voted 64-34 in favor of advancing the CHIPS Act, which sets the stage for the final consideration... Read more…

Top500: Exascale Is Officially Here with Debut of Frontier

May 30, 2022

The 59th installment of the Top500 list, issued today from ISC 2022 in Hamburg, Germany, officially marks a new era in supercomputing with the debut of the first-ever exascale system on the list. Frontier, deployed at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, achieved 1.102 exaflops in its fastest High Performance Linpack run, which was completed... Read more…

Newly-Observed Higgs Mode Holds Promise in Quantum Computing

June 8, 2022

The first-ever appearance of a previously undetectable quantum excitation known as the axial Higgs mode – exciting in its own right – also holds promise for developing and manipulating higher temperature quantum materials... Read more…

AMD’s MI300 APUs to Power Exascale El Capitan Supercomputer

June 21, 2022

Additional details of the architecture of the exascale El Capitan supercomputer were disclosed today by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL) Terri Read more…

PsiQuantum’s Path to 1 Million Qubits

April 21, 2022

PsiQuantum, founded in 2016 by four researchers with roots at Bristol University, Stanford University, and York University, is one of a few quantum computing startups that’s kept a moderately low PR profile. (That’s if you disregard the roughly $700 million in funding it has attracted.) The main reason is PsiQuantum has eschewed the clamorous public chase for... Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

ISC 2022 Booth Video Tours

AMD
AWS
DDN
Dell
Intel
Lenovo
Microsoft
PENGUIN SOLUTIONS

Exclusive Inside Look at First US Exascale Supercomputer

July 1, 2022

HPCwire takes you inside the Frontier datacenter at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tenn., for an interview with Frontier Project Direc Read more…

AMD Opens Up Chip Design to the Outside for Custom Future

June 15, 2022

AMD is getting personal with chips as it sets sail to make products more to the liking of its customers. The chipmaker detailed a modular chip future in which customers can mix and match non-AMD processors in a custom chip package. "We are focused on making it easier to implement chips with more flexibility," said Mark Papermaster, chief technology officer at AMD during the analyst day meeting late last week. Read more…

Intel Reiterates Plans to Merge CPU, GPU High-performance Chip Roadmaps

May 31, 2022

Intel reiterated it is well on its way to merging its roadmap of high-performance CPUs and GPUs as it shifts over to newer manufacturing processes and packaging technologies in the coming years. The company is merging the CPU and GPU lineups into a chip (codenamed Falcon Shores) which Intel has dubbed an XPU. Falcon Shores... Read more…

Nvidia, Intel to Power Atos-Built MareNostrum 5 Supercomputer

June 16, 2022

The long-troubled, hotly anticipated MareNostrum 5 supercomputer finally has a vendor: Atos, which will be supplying a system that includes both Nvidia and Inte Read more…

India Launches Petascale ‘PARAM Ganga’ Supercomputer

March 8, 2022

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Indian government promised that it had five HPC systems in the final stages of installation and would launch nine new supercomputers this year. Now, it appears to be making good on that promise: the country’s National Supercomputing Mission (NSM) has announced the deployment of “PARAM Ganga” petascale supercomputer at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)... Read more…

Is Time Running Out for Compromise on America COMPETES/USICA Act?

June 22, 2022

You may recall that efforts proposed in 2020 to remake the National Science Foundation (Endless Frontier Act) have since expanded and morphed into two gigantic bills, the America COMPETES Act in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act in the U.S. Senate. So far, efforts to reconcile the two pieces of legislation have snagged and recent reports... Read more…

AMD Lines Up Alternate Chips as It Eyes a ‘Post-exaflops’ Future

June 10, 2022

Close to a decade ago, AMD was in turmoil. The company was playing second fiddle to Intel in PCs and datacenters, and its road to profitability hinged mostly on Read more…

Exascale Watch: Aurora Installation Underway, Now Open for Reservations

May 10, 2022

Installation has begun on the Aurora supercomputer, Rick Stevens (associate director of Argonne National Laboratory) revealed today during the Intel Vision event keynote taking place in Dallas, Texas, and online. Joining Intel exec Raja Koduri on stage, Stevens confirmed that the Aurora build is underway – a major development for a system that is projected to deliver more... Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire